I’m not sure people realize this
But discovering who you are before mental illness can be a long an arduous process, and it takes a lot longer then you think. I guess what compelled me to write this post is the fact that I met up with my foster aunt and little sister two days ago, and my boyfriend’s family yesterday.
Of course they all asked how I was doing, and how my college readmission process was going, since that’s what you talk about in normal conversation, but I couldn’t help but feel a small pang of shame, despite knowing that going back wouldn’t be the right choice for me.
I do want to go back. I’m the kind of person who does their best to fulfill my promises and I’ve promised my parents I’d get a degree for them. The thing is, when your entire life is spent nearly killing yourself over getting said degree, you lose sight of who you really are, and what you truly want out of life.
It wasn’t until I got hospitalized, dropped out and started to slowly get better via therapy and working a simple mindless minimum wage job that I began to remember the kind of person I was, before the illness.
I’m a hard worker, I’m intelligent, resourceful, pragmatic, and competitive. I love to make people happy, and help others. I just took it too far when I was sick.
I remembered my dreams of wanting to be a renaissance woman. A person who could be a jack of all trades, and took joy and pride with learning new things. I haven’t had FUN learning in a long time.
But learning how to use hand tools at my IT job, and being able to have playful banter with my co workers, and exercising my body as well as my mind, made me feel alive again, and my desire to learn more and try new things blossomed back again.
I thought, maybe someday I can save up enough money for voice lessons, or maybe I can muster up the courage to take a dance class. Maybe, I’m not such a worthless person after all, and maybe I can fulfill my childhood dream of making beautiful things and sharing them with people.
When I was working and taking one class at a time, I felt content. I felt fulfilled, I had a great boyfriend and was living with his supportive family, there were three adorable cats, and I could walk and take the bus everywhere, and make art to my hearts content.
Is it selfish of me to want to do more of that?
I haven’t had a happy life in so long, so when I finally get a taste of sweet escape I want to relish and enjoy it. Of course I want to be responsible. I am not afraid of hard work, I just can’t walk anywhere near my college campus without hyperventilating, and it takes me half an hour to muster up the courage to make a phone call.
I do want to do the right thing. I do want to graduate, but I don’t want my entire life to be defined by that moment anymore. I don’t want to be the family crusader anymore. I don’t want my parents to live vicariously through me anymore.
And now that I got them off my back and cut contact, I’ve felt at peace. I don’t want to lose the joy of learning again. I want to take pride my work and not constantly feel like I’m inadequate because I can’t live for the generations of loved ones that passed. I don’t want to be compared to a woman that got shot, gutted, and raped in front of her children because she had the audacity to sneak out of a concentration camp to collect fruit from the orchard of her old home so her children wouldn’t starve. I don’t want to feel like I have to suffer as much as her to be deemed worthy, to feel like I deserve to live, with her namesake.
I am me. And I just want to be me. I guess I fear going back, because I fear falling back into old habits. I fear going back because I fear that I will only be defined by my academic achievements again, and not the many things I have already overcome in my life.
I want to learn for my sake, not as a form of redemption or punishment. I’m just as afraid of success as I am of failure, since once I succeed I have to constantly out do myself, I have to constantly live up to the loved ones that have become legendary heroes in my eyes, and I don’t want to be legendary. I just want to be me.
Asked my parents for money
I don’t even feel about about it anymore. Maybe it’s just me being jaded and bitter but the selfish part of my brain says “After all the abuse asking for a couple hundred dollars is a small price to pay”
But the other side of me is like “They are your parents, and you love them, and they want you to be happy and successfull, the least you can do is reassure them that you are still on the right path. So I called my mom. She’s still really lonely and depressed and basically vented to me like she normally does.
However, I didn’t find it as taxing. I reassured her that dad still loved her but is still an asshole. That all the kids were developing just fine, they just had normal teenage problems, and basically talked about my plans about trying to get into school, and gently warning her that I may not make it in by the fall semester because of paperwork. (when in reality it’s just me preserving my mental health, whatever white lies)
I was in control of the conversation, and that felt really good. No longer was I that scared little girl that was anticipating getting hit. I was an authority figure and she was talking to me like a peer instead of naive child. So although my life situation is less then ideal, I’m slowly mending ties with my family.
They are far from healthy and stable, but I can at least talk to my mom without having to cry for five hours afterwards. And hell, knowing she feels guilty about not raising me well (and trying to change her ways for the other kids) feels a little good.
I really hate having anxiety
Because of my anxiety disorder I have a huge fear of talking on the phone. Despite the fact that everyone says I’m very well spoken and polished over the phone. I’m pretty sure it had to do with the fact that as a kid I had to translate for my mom and lets just say doctors and administrators in general aren’t always the nicest to five year olds. So I was always the first one to know if there was a financial crisis in the house or an extreme medical condition or some social war within the family.
The fact that I don’t get any cell service in my apartment is just enabling me into not leaving the building so I don’t have to listen to my voicemail. It’s so stupid, I had to hold my boyfriend’s hand to listen to the voicemails for moral support.
I got a voice mail form the temp agent I called asking about when I was available to schedule for an appointment and working up the nerve to call back has been giving me panic attacks.
Big reason why I tried to sew three different doll dresses!
I emailed my therapist saying that despite putting a lot of work in, I feel like I haven’t progressed fast enough, and that it was likely I was sabotaging myself because I fear success. I hate uncertainty, I hate anticipation, I hate making mistakes so for some reason making myself fail makes me feel safe.
The perfectionist in me fears success, because once I succeed I will have to constantly live up to that standard. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. Either I’m a powerful goddess that can conquer the universe, or I’m not even worthy to exist. My therapist told me to think about causes my anxiety, and through trying to make a million dresses this is what I’ve come with it.
I fear uncertainty
Uncertainty could mean failure
Failure means I am not worthy to be alive
Uncertainty could also mean success
Success is still bad, because I have to constantly strive for perfection in order to feel worthy enough to exist.
I should link my therapist to this post. Or at least copy and paste this in an email. I want to talk to my boyfriend about scheduling a visit back into town so I can see her again.
My most recent email that I received from my therapist says I should list off all the claims my mother’s distorted view of me are and write a counter argument that contradicts her points. So here it goes, negative thoughts under the cut plus my counter arguments.
Being in a relationship when you have a mental illness can be difficult
My boyfriend gave me a big confrontation last night, because I didn’t end up mending his only pair of black slacks for work. Due to my adhd I tend to hyper focus on one task (in this case running all over the city to get quarters for the laundry machine) and end up marathon that instead of doing little bits of chores everyday.
He wasn’t upset that I didn’t do it. He was upset that I didn’t tell him I couldn’t get around to doing it in time so he could buy another pair. I do this a lot. I make a lot of promises that I can’t keep, because I can’t say no when I can’t do something. I take on more then I can handle and up screwing people over that way instead of being upfront about it.
Back at home it made sense. I’d do everything in my power to withhold all the mistakes I made, all the things I didn’t do because even a minor thing like missing something in the pockets when sorting laundry could lead to me being severely hit.
The trouble is with all these broken promises towards people I care about, I lose their trust, and my poor boyfriend was super uneasy about the state of our relationship and how I felt about him, due to me being extremely distant, and my most recent attempts of trying to isolate myself.
I’m not a very touchy feely person in real life. I am really over the top and affectionate on here, but I’m super shy and quiet in person. I also tend to be extremely stoic and cold because I was raised to believe that openly showing emotion was a sign of weakness.
So even though I adore my boyfriend to the depths of my soul it doesn’t show, and his own doubts and insecurities ate away at his trust in me and he kept wondering if I was only staying with him because I needed the financial stability.
Needless to say I burst into tears because how dare someone I care about so much thinks I’d do such a thing, and I insisted over and over and over again that I loved him, and that everywhere he is, is home for me.
He was relieved, and actually believed me this time, since I DESPISE crying in front of him or being vulnerable in general and he knows this, and we just strategized ways to fix my hyper focus problem.
I mended his pants his morning and he went off to work. I guess you could say last night was a big wakeup call. I need to work harder at making my partner feel loved and appreciated. His birthday is coming up, so my brain is already in motion.
I sent out the application
I sent out that forbearance application to the last second. I am praying it goes through on time. The financial aid counselor said she’d fax my form in as soon as she got it, and I scanned the documents to her a few minutes ago.
The due date is sunday, I hope there is no processing time or anything. I am PRAYING it goes through since I have a little under 300 dollars to my name and I’m moving and need to get a job asap to pay for rent and utilities, and to get settled enough that I can properly arrange the reapplication process.
If the forbearance doesn’t go through in time my bank account will be completely wiped. I won’t have a cent to my name, and that scares me.
This financial stress made me put off readmitting myself into school so I decided to wait until next year. I just can’t juggle finding a full time job and getting back into school at the same time, plus making sure I can pay off my medical bills and living expenses.
Now I have to do laundry so we have clean clothing to pack. I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing, that whole process of filling out and mailing in that application had me sobbing and curled up on the floor because the fact that it could be late means I can’t afford to go back to school, and I want to go back really really bad, despite the fact that I’ve been putting off the application to get back in.
I’m still learning how to balance my life properly, and I know if I can’t handle regular adulting how am I going to handle course work on top of it?
What am I fucking doing?
I may have screwed up my chances of ever finishing school
Slowly putting the pieces together
My boyfriend called the realtor we were working with back, and our application for this apartment we are looking at got approved! Right now he’s writing up the lease as we speak.
I’m looking forward to having an adult life with my boyfriend and his best friend but I am a little nervous. A big thing that is looming over my head is my Perkins loan payment that I legit can’t afford. I’ve filled out the forbearance request form but they require documentation that proves that I am unable to pay the full amount. The deadline is looming really close, and despite harassing the human resources department at my work, I’m not getting anywhere.
The last thing I need is a late fee, because my credit is bad enough as it is, with my parents withholding my bills (before I legally changed addresses) and it’s a big reason why me and boyfriend aren’t married yet. (I don’t want him marrying into my debt, also I have my own list of criteria I need met before I get married at all)
I’ve decided to put my school readmission stuff on hold, because the earliest I can apply is next year, and right now I REALLY need to get my financial ducks in a row if I want to get settled in boston.
I have a restaurant interested in interviewing me (although I haven’t been able to schedule an interview yet due to it being all the way in boston) and I have applied to other food service type positions. I really hope I get this job though. It’s at this brand new upscale Asian bistro place that needs and entirely new staff, and I’ve practically grown up in restaurant life. (my dad was a chef before we moved up north) and I’ve been doing catering and fine dining/regular food service since I was 16.
My therapist says I’ve gotten a lot better and that she’s proud of me, but I am still nervous since I know there is so much I need to learn and there is so much more work to be done.
On the other hand all this paperwork that is a huge trigger for me, will be easier to do, since I get to do it on my own terms without my mom looming over me and threatening me.
So all these skills I had to learn in a difficult household are coming in handy. I hate being so capable of things and being unable to utilize my strengths to it’s fullest potential.
I have high doubts about if I can make it on my own in the word because of my crippling mental illness and battered childhood, yet I’m called “The Speed Demon”, and the full time staff see me as their equal since I unofficially train new staff and can force the skeezy lazy guys to do their jobs via flirting and threatening their masculinity. (They can’t stand not being able to keep up with a tiny 5 ft asian girl)
I am also apparently really eloquent and professional on the phone since calling credit card companies and doctors offices at 5 years old forced me to act older then I actually was.
I hate doing all these tasks. I hate doing paperwork and phone calls but when I just dive in and do it, it’s flawless, and I have to remind myself of that.
I’m not an idiot or incompetent, I managed to get enrolled into a really good University and I only feel stupid because EVERYONE IS REALLY SMART THERE. It’s not fair to compare myself to them, because everyone comes in from different circumstances and some people had more opportunities then me. It’s not my fault. I should be proud of the fact that I GOT IN, with my spotty grades, and average test scores my essay writing really drove home my strengths, because I was performing at an average level in HARD MODE when it came to life, so imagine how I could excel in easy mode, after I deal with all this psychological trauma!
At work I had a very pleasant conversation with my father over lunch, and he was totally cool with me moving and going back to school. That made me really happy, since the biggest thing tearing me up inside is that I don’t have their support. I think the fact that I’m GOING BACK TO SCHOOL, and that I have a plan that I actually told him about made him feel more secure, and he said if there was anything I needed for the apartment (since he hoards) feel free to stop by.
So I can get my printer back, and maybe my books, and some appliances for free.
I feel better. I have A SHIT TON to do and I feel like screaming but I’m not as afraid as I was five years ago. I know who I am, I know what I want, and I know what I have to do to get there.
And the fact that despite my anxiety I’m slowly filling out forms and making these scary phonecalls to get the stuff I need means I’ve gotten better. I can’t be too hard on myself. I’m getting better.
I got this message anon and the inbox system kept cutting off parts so I’m compiling them here to respond.
I know someone who’s had to be a financial support system for their parents because they’re that poor so they had to tweak the system to get money but they’re treated like they can’t look after themselves and belittle them to the point of suicide. The whole reason they haven’t been homeless was because he’s been tweaking the system to get money. They’ve had to put their lives on hold because they had to make sure their siblings got farther than he did, they had to help them with their shit while he’s had to struggle with school on his own and no one wanting to help him.
At home no one really cared about his well-being except to get govt money and he’s attempted suicide several times but it only SLIGHTLY got better now that there’s one more person to support him through all of this. The dad still treats him like shit, calling him a failure of a son and other names in khmer that he can’t understand because they were too poor to take khmer classes. The mom cares for him as well as the rest of her children but even she knows what this cost him and she’s sorry for the damage that has been done and continues to be done by others.
She tries to make ends meet, but it doesn’t help with a quick-to-fight brat that costs them more in damages than actually putting his energy into positive things. I didn’t tell you this to belittle your experiences and triumphs, but to show you that there’s others that have also gone through some shit but still have to claw their way forward because of them being relied on in some way by their parents when it never should’ve gotten to that point at such a young age.
You’ve learned so much at an age where most were learning to play and have fun. Please don’t feel bad if others start to spin the old thread (using emotional manipulation) to reel you in and get you to do their bidding—rather don’t fall for it and stand your ground. Yes that sounds extremely difficult, but it’s better for your well-being because you need to make room for yourself to catch a break, because have the others made room for you at all? Have they asked you how you’re doing, checked up on you, helped you—at all?
If all they know how to do is using negative reinforcements to keep you there, then they need to re-evaluate themselves because they’re driving you away with their demands. Now, if you’ve been the crux of the family and it’s falling apart because you want some time to yourself then by all means take that time for yourself. You’re not the mother of the family, if you want to help the family that’s great but if the parents are treating you like shit and expecting quality responses then I’m sorry but that’s not going to happen. I don’t know your family like you do but I do worry about your well-being because no one deserves to be treated like the way you are for everything that you’ve done.
Thanks anon for your words of support. I have been been slowly but surely recovering from all the mental illnesses I have received, from my parents.
After my hospitalization from a suicide attempt, I left school I left my parents house and I’ve been staying at my boyfriend’s house for a year. I’ve been going to therapy, set up a psychiatrist, and have had my foster family keep tabs on my siblings in case my parents go too far with them. I have also been taking summer courses in order to not fall behind in school and am trying to get my grades to show up on my transcript.
I am also in the process of moving back into the city with my boyfriend so I can go back to school in person and have my own grown up life with him.
I’m luckier then most. I had a foster family to back me up and help me get to the resources I needed to get better. They’ve paid for my therapy sessions and are helping me get back into school.
However, doing this has made my parents really angry at me. They think I have betrayed them, because I broke away form the path. They wanted me to graduate with high honors and get a high paying job and pool my money with theirs to get a big house for everyone to live together.
They do worry about me and I know they still love me, they just don’t understand why I refuse to talk to them in person, or tell them my plans about school or work. They think I don’t love them anymore, and that I am actively trying to hurt them, when all I’m trying to do is survive.
It really wasn’t until college hit that I realized that I wasn’t ready for it. the shock of not being forced to take care of someone constantly was jarring because I didn’t know how to take care of myself, I only knew how to take care of others.
So I surrounded myself with people who were dysfunctional like me and tried to take care of them. I got sicker and sicker and sicker, until I eventually couldn’t function.
I’m putting this in the Khmer tag because I want other Khmer kids know that it’s okay to stray from the path. We don’t have a set guide book or rules to follow. We are trying just as hard to survive as our ancestors have. You don’t have to be as great as the loved ones that have passed. You can just be you, and that’s ok.
I was named after my Grandmother Eyling. (My middle name is Meyling) She was Chinese although she lived in Cambodia and was slaughtered in front of the entire camp for picking fruit from her own orchard after the evacuation to feed her starving kids. (since the rations were too small)
For years every time I did something for myself I was told that I was disrespecting my grandmothers memory, and I was a bad daughter for straying from the path, but that’s not true! Even now while my parents resent me for not doing what they say, I know my path is right and true. I am not my grandmother, and this is not the Khmer Rouge. This is a new world where I have a better idea of what the rules are and my parents don’t.
It hurts that I don’t have their blessing. It hurts that they think I have betrayed them and am dishonoring my grandmother, but I like to think her spirit is with me, cheering me on, because our ancestors want us to thrive and be happy. Not suffer as much as them.
It is not a sin to be happy. It is ok to want things. It is okay to forge your own path. This our world, a new world, and we have the map not our parents.